Johannes Brahms, Leonard Cohen, and Radiohead?
All of the above filled UNC Greensboro’s Tew Recital Hall this week as piano powerhouse duo Anderson & Roe (Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe) took the stage as part of UNCG’s University Concert and Lecture Series and as guests in the School of Music.
“Their playing is so diverse,” said UNCG music student Sicheng Li after seeing the concert. “Sometimes it is forceful and suddenly it is really dedicated and quiet, which surprised me a lot, and I sincerely loved that. They are at the perfect pace with each other, including every time they breathe to start, every time they raise their hand, every time they grow strong – they match each other so well.”
The chart-topping performers, called “the most dynamic duo of this generation” by San Francisco Classical Voice, not only slay audiences with their outstanding musical skill and energized, passionate performances, but also their ability to create stirring variations on both classical compositions and 20th-century pop and rock music, which form, as Anderson said, “our portrait of modern life.”
“We take popular melodies and we turn them upside down,” he explained in an introduction to their original work. “We view them through a different lens – the Anderson & Roe lens. We’ve done this with the hope of giving you a new perspective on some of these pieces.”
Their variations performed at UNCG included Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 5”; “Star Wars Fantasy No. II,” based on the theme song used most notably in “Star Wars” as Luke Skywalker watches the binary sunset on his home planet; “Paranoid Android,” Radiohead’s “extraterrestrial nightmare” (in Roe’s words) from the “OK Computer” album; “Hallelujah Variations,” eight variations of the iconic song by Leonard Cohen inspired by Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven; and an avant-garde dueling piano gospel version of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Let it Be.”
“We’re fascinated by the idea of music and art in modern times and how music can serve as a reflection and an antidote to modern life,” explained Roe. “What we think is fascinating is that artists can give a different outlook and a different perspective on what it means to be human.”
Anderson & Roe are known for their exquisite, charged performances in concert and also for their Emmy-nominated, self-produced music videos, which aim to excite young audiences with the power and potential of classical music.
To that end they also employ social media, the topic of their conversation in an exclusive afternoon session with UNCG music students.
The duo described how they use social media and self-produced music videos to share their music and connect with fans in a meaningful way – not just by building a fan base but by helping fans have a more intensified and informed musical experience.
“And, for us, it’s like a two-way street,” said Roe. “We’re hoping our audience members get more out of our performances and our videos by interacting with us, but we also gain so much from connecting with our fans online and from meeting them face-to-face.”
See highlights from Anderson & Roe’s visit below.
Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Susan Kirby-Smith, Jiyoung Park, and Martin W. Kane, University Communications